Letters + Opinion » The Week in Weed

Beware of Snowshoers (and Getting High in the Backcountry)



With the national legalization of recreational cannabis looming, one of Canada's largest search and rescue outfits is warning that weed and the backcountry are a dangerous combination.

"We regularly respond to calls for those who are well prepared, do everything right, are completely sober and still get into trouble," Curtis Jones wrote on Vancouver's North Shore Rescue's blog. "When you're high in the mountains, and I don't mean elevation wise, you shift your position on the continuum between 'Prepared Hiker' and 'Candidate for Rescue' significantly towards the latter position."

The post details a few occasions when Jones' outfit was called to save intoxicated and wayward adventurers. Most of the accounts are sobering — like the hiker who munched an edible, then had seizures. Another — detailing the time two snowshoers used pot and ecstasy, then wound up in a knife fight — is just bizarre.

Ecstasy and knives aside, Jones does offer a few pearls that we on the rugged North Coast should keep in mind. Most notably, wilderness areas can be unforgiving so it's best to keep your wits about you. And if you must take a puff, a dab or a nibble while out in the backcountry, it's a good idea not to sample products you haven't tried before.

At a minimum, having a cannabis-induced panic attack while miles away from the trailhead sounds pretty miserable. Not as miserable as, say, trying to fight off a knife-wielding snowshoer while tripping on ecstasy, but pretty miserable nonetheless.

Puff if you must but stay safe out there.

There's a new vice cop in town: the World Series of Poker.

The popular poker event held annually in Las Vegas recently harshed the vibe of Michael Mizrachi, who'd become the first professional poker player to ink a sponsorship deal with a cannabis company. With the logo for Blum, a dispensary chain operating in Nevada and California, joining other sponsors on his black polo shirt and another on his black baseball hat, Mizrachi was doing well, moving on to a televised round of the tournament, when he got pulled aside.

The poker powers that be told Mizrachi that if he wanted to keep playing, he'd have to put black duct tape over the offending logos.

It turns out that while alcohol sponsorships are allowed — and widely deployed — in the series, the event has a prohibition on advertising for porn, tobacco, firearms, cannabis and cryptocurrency.

While I'm not going to cast any shade on an organization declining to advertise the scourge of tobacco, the predatory porn industry or firearms, which kill more than 30,000 people annually in the United States, it seems beyond hypocritical to shun cannabis while giving the nod to big alcohol in an event held in a casino. After all, excessive alcohol use leads to more than 88,000 deaths in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control, while there's never been a documented cannabis overdose death.

And what did cryptocurrency ever do to anyone?

News broke last week that Canadian researchers have created what's being hailed as the first beer brewed from cannabis. Now, there are already lots of marijuana-infused beers — those generally terrible traditionally brewed concoctions that add a cannabis flavor component like hemp seeds or a shot of THC and CBD oils — but this is different.

Province Brands is now making beer that is brewed with cannabis plants — stalks, stems, flowers and all — instead of barley. After some initial trials returned a brew that "tasted like rotten broccoli," according to a Guardian report, the researchers found a recipe that is "dry, savory and less sweet than a typical beer flavor." The brew has no alcohol but 6.5 milligrams of THC per serving. (For perspective, California regulations limit edibles to 10 milligrams of THC per serving.)

If that sounds like your bag, cheers. Just don't drink it for the first time while snowshoeing in the backcountry or try to put it on your World Series of Poker hat.

Thadeus Greenson is the Journal's news editor. Reach him at 442-1400, extension 321, or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @thadeusgreenson.

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